Great Lakes Salmon
Salmon were first introduced into the Great Lakes system in the 1870's. The largest and most popular species
in the Great Lakes system is the Chinook Salmon. In addition, Coho Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, and Pink Salmon
have been introduced., There are also two different strains of Atlantic salmon that have been introduced in the
Chinook or King Salmon:
The Chinook Salmon, also called the King Salmon, is are the largest of the five Pacific Salmon species that
have been introduced into the Great Lakes. The Chinook Salmon is the largest of the Salmonidae family. It has
proven that it can also do well living its entire life in fresh water. They are very hard fighting fish that rarely jump.
Chinook Salmon stay in the lakes in much shallower water than those of the Pacific Ocean. They can be taken
on conventional tackle trolling in some of the Great Lakes. Those raised entirely in freshwater do not mature as
fast as those in saltwater because the food supply is greater in the Pacific Ocean. These large King Salmon
start entering the tributary streams of the Great Lakes in the later part of August and early September much the
same time as the Pacific Chinook Salmon. By the middle to late October the run has usually ended.
Sockeye or Red Salmon:
Sockeye Salmon are also called Red Salmon. Landlocked Sockeye Salmon are called Kokanee salmon. Those
in the Great Lakes are usually a silver color and their backs a blue-green. Sockeye Salmon in the Great Lakes
(Kokanee) are usually about 16 inches long and weight from two to three pounds. Kokanee Salmon have also
been introduced in many other lakes and stream systems in the United States. They tend to run in schools.
Coho or Silver Salmon:
Coho were first introduced into the Great Lakes system in the 1960's. Like the Chinook or King Salmon, they
too are caught by anglers trolling the Great Lakes. These salmon can live for two to four years and get up to
twelve pounds but only average around six. They enter the rivers and streams of the Great Lakes to spawn
about the same time as the Chinook Salmon, and usually spawn during the month of October. After hatching,
the young Coho Salmon live in the rivers or streams for over a year before heading into the Great Lakes.
They prefer small streams and are the fly angler's favorite salmon because of their ability to jump.
Pink Salmon or Humpback Salmon:
The Pink Salmon, called Humpback Salmon, were first introduced into Lake Superior. There they have
reproduced and eventually spread to all the Great Lakes. After doing well for a year or two, those in Lake
Ontario and Lake Erie and then declined. In Lake Huron and Lake Superior the population of Pink Salmon
leveled off but there are still plenty of fish. Pink Salmon only average living for two years. Most of them caught
by fly anglers are caught by anglers fishing for other species.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
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